Twenty-year-old Marcus is always on the go. From trampoline jumps, sit-ups and chin-ups to swimming and sprinting around on his kick scooter, one might mistake the lanky bright-eyed chap for a fitness freak.

Involving him in a plethora of activities is part of an ongoing effort to help Marcus cope with sensory dysregulation—a state whereby his sensory system is out of balance, which leads to extreme responses to changes in light, smell or sound in his environment. His father, Mr Toh Chin Kiang, 54, prides himself as Marcus’ best playmate and uses exercise to communicate and bond with his non-verbal son.

Consistency, close supervision and constant encouragement are integral to this family’s endeavour in keeping Marcus calm and regulated. His head-banging behaviour and loud noises, which may invite uncomfortable glances from the public, do not deter Mr Toh. Gentle and patient, he believes in setting an example of the correct manner to treat autistic people. He hopes that as Marcus becomes a familiar sight in community spaces, others might accept and even help to look out for him someday.


One by one, the plastic egg cartons are taken out, adhered with stickers, then neatly stacked up again. Humming their favourite Chinese children's songs, sisters Gek Teng, 20, and Gek Huee, 18, can label up to 2,000 egg cartons in an afternoon.

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